Friday, December 20, 2013

End the Remedial Education Scam


By Professor Doom



Student: “I didn’t do the homework because I don’t have the book. The loan checks haven’t come in yet.”

Me: “No problem. Take out your phone, and take a picture of the relevant pages from my textbook.”

--I often get students so unwilling to risk anything on their education that they won’t buy the textbook until they get the money for it handed to them first. It’s possible they just don’t have the money, but they commonly have the money for very expensive cell phones and service, not to mention cars and insurance. These complaints can go on for weeks into the semester, until the checks arrive. Then the complaints, and some of my students, disappear. Admin gets their cut first, so doesn’t really care, as long as they don’t have to field complaints from uppity faculty trying to do an honest job.


     So last time I gave the primary reason for no longer giving college loan money for remedial students: college loans should be for college work. That’s probably not obvious enough for college administration, so allow me to present other reasons we need to stop this.

     Remedial coursework is something that most every college-age student has already seen, and ignored, half a dozen times or more in public school. Having already demonstrated an unwillingness to learn the material, the burden should be on the student to show he’s had a change of heart. This is also material that has already been paid for, at great expense, in the secondary (and often primary) school system through taxes. There’s no reason the taxpayers need to pay for it twice or more accurately “half a dozen plus one” times, in the case of students that failed to learn in the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades before going on to college. This material is what a child can learn with a little help, and an adult not wanting to pay for coursework can easily go to the library and read, if he was serious, or go to private tutoring services if he needs to. A serious student without a learning disability can usually pick up this material in a matter of weeks, not months, while a non-serious student will never do so, despite the passing grade administration forces faculty to give them. The learning disabled shouldn’t be afflicted with a lifetime of debt in any event.


     “I dropped out of college with $10,000 in loans. I haven’t been able to make but a few payments in the last ten years. Now I owe almost $30,000. Even if I start making payments, which I can’t, it’ll take another ten years to pay it off. I have to go back to college, get a degree and get me a good job. I’ll pass developmental math this time. I have to.”

--A student does the math. Almost. PT Barnum was amazed at the number of people, after being tricked by The Great Egress sign, would pay admission AGAIN just to come back in and complain to him about it. Some percentage of them probably got fooled by The Great Egress sign again on their way out.


     Finally, this material isn’t “higher” education, and so it’s very questionable that a student should be charged as much for it as for any college course. Unfortunately, a loan makes the price much more than just the base cost. If the course is paid for via loan money, the student is actually paying more like three times as much over the decades it takes to pay it back, for material that should be cheaper to learn. Again, integrity is an issue here. It’s simply wrong to do this to those least able to understand how they’re being triple-charged on an already inflated price.

      College administrators will screech how this would be denying those most in need of improvement, but the intellectual honesty of such complaints can be easily exposed: administrators that honestly feel this way should be welcome to donate their salaries, reducing them to say, adjunct levels, with the money going to remedial students as a grant towards their remedial education. If a significant number of administrators do this, then this point of view will be re-opened. I’ll happily teach extra remedial courses for minimal pro-rated pay based on administrators sacrificing all but $15,000 a year or so of their salary and benefits. Working for people with this kind of integrity and dedication to education (i.e., the people that should be running higher education, unlike today) would motivate me to do the same.

     I know, fat chance of that. Now, I’m not the first to notice, and complain, that all we’re doing with our resources is trying to cram remedial knowledge into people that have no interest in learning. Administration knows that scam has to end soon, and is already working to change the scam so that these suckers will have even less chance of escaping the trap.

     Luckily, my fixes have already put up a roadblock to typical administrative chicanery, but we’ll cover that soon.













  1. What I'm saying is somewhat at odds with earlier comments of mine but often the American public school system has knocked out the ability to learn. I'm speaking now as one who's taught junior high math. It's not the youngsters who are at fault -- the curricula, the texts, the teachers, the system as a whole, are at fault. The synaptic connections can no longer be made as an intellectual context wasn't provided, and fear and terror have been instilled into the psyche in a manner reminiscent of the indoctrination in Huxley's "Brave New World." As college students they're the walking wounded. The teaching of math in school has left them traumatised, shell-shocked, clueless, with learning disabilities. That's where the focus should be.

  2. Absolutely, there are intellectual castrati who cannot possibly benefit from higher education...but it's still highly unethical to exploit them into inescapable loans they cannot possibly understand.

    It's so weird how when I inscribe a fraction on the board, there are palpable waves of fear and confusion that spread through the room. You can nearly see as, row by row, the realization of the cosmic horror of the fraction dawns on the students as they look up from their cell phones.

    The sheer terror of the fraction leads to believe that, around the third grade, they were all lined up in the room, and then a fraction came into the room and touched them, inappropriately.